Polish POWs under Soviet occupation
Governing and opposition parties conflict over a resolution to commemorate the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.
Last Thursday, the opposition Law and Justice party (PiS)
filed a resolution in the lower house of parliament, calling for
September 17 to be made a national public holiday, in commemoration of
the invasion by the Red Army from the east, as what was left of
Polandâ€™s armed forces battled the Nazi German army in the west.
Up to half a million Polish forces were taken prisoner by the
advancing Soviet army, annexing territory as it went and proclaiming 13
million Poles â€œSoviet citizensâ€�. Over 300,000 Poles were sent to
Siberia, with at least 150,000 perishing under Soviet rule.
The Law and Justice resolution reads: â€œThe Red Army brought
death and destruction to Polish territory â€“ including genocide, murder,
rape, looting and other forms of persecution. Parliament encourages the
Polish authorities to take steps to discourage the falsification of
history. Each day information glorifying Stalin and Soviet propaganda
is disseminated is an offense against the Polish nation, the victims of
World War II in Poland and all of the democratic world.â€�
The resolution refers to recent attempts by Russian documentary makers, intelligence services and politicians to blame Poland for starting WW II.
Ruling Civic Platform member and Deputy Speaker of the Lower
House, Stefan Niesiolowski, told Polish Radio this morning that the Law
and Justice sponsored bill is harmful to future Polish-Russian
relations and should be scrapped.
â€œIt is such a senseless provocation â€“ an anti-Russian provocation,â€� he said, remarking that
such populist moves are aimed more at trying to increase shaky support
at home than they are at clarifying historical truth.
â€œLaw and Justice will now say: we are the only patriots and
others are cowardly collaborators, agents of Moscow and Berlin,
traitors, renegades and have failed to defend Polish interests,â€� says
Meanwhile, Civic Platform has introduced a counter-resolution,
which calls for commemoration of those who defended Poland against the
Red Army invasion but without making September a national holiday.
â€œThe Republic of Polandâ€™s lower house of parliament holds the
view that Polish-Russian reconciliation requires a respect for
historical truth. One cannot be silent or manipulative,â€� reads the
Civic Platform resolution.
The head of the Law and Justice parliamentary party,
Przemyslaw Gosiewski, has declared readiness to work with the
government on a common resolution, to be debated next week.